Exploring Edinburgh: botanics, views and sunsets

Letter 85

On a sunny day, Edinburgh is the place to be. It completely comes alive and everyone comes out in force to soak up the rare vitamin D. I took a well deserved day off on Saturday to enjoy the sunshine and take a walk around some of my favourite areas of Edinburgh. Allow me to show you around…

The Meadows is the location of everyone’s sunny Saturday, and we joined the masses to relax on the lawns in in the beautiful weather. Being surrounded by groups of friends, couples and families is perfect for people watching. The addition of mouth watering aromas drifting over from barbeques and frisbees and footballs flying around makes you feel like it might actually be summer. Only 46 days and it actually will be summer for me! Not that I’m counting…

Edinburgh Meadows DaffodilsEdinburgh Meadows

We headed on from the Meadows through Prince’s Street and towards Stockbridge. On the way we passed beautiful classic Edinburgh Streets and Dean Village. This is an upmarket area of the city with many gems to discover if you have the time to wander. Dean Gardens runs along the river with stunning views.

Edinburgh buildingsEdinburgh Dean GardensEdinburgh flowers

We made it Stockbridge and stopped for food. This area feels like a village within the city. It’s wonderful. It’s best to visit on a Sunday when the weekly market takes over the area. It’s a mix of cheese, cakes, bakery, music and paella. Must visit when you’re in the Burgh!

Edinburgh Stockbridge River

Just a few minutes from Stockbridge are the Botanic Gardens which are amazing to explore – especially on a sunny day! Even though the flowers weren’t in full bloom yet, it was still stunning, and the views over Edinburgh to the castle are wonderful. There’s so much to explore here including galleries, ponds and glasshouses. The gardens are completely free to walk around, but the glasshouses cost £5 or £4.50 for students.

Edinburgh Botanic GardensEdinburgh Botanic Gardens castle viewEdinburgh Botanic Gardens pondEdinburgh Botanic Gardens glasshouseEdinburgh Botanic Gardens Glasshouse 2Edinburgh Botanic Gardens FlowerEdinburgh Botanic Gardens silhouette

We headed back up to Prince’s Street for some food and took the weight off our feet for a while. It’s easy to walk for miles in this sunny city without realizing it. On arriving back home we caught the beautiful sunset which was the perfect end to the day. I’ve mentioned it before – but Edinburgh really does have stunning sunsets.

Edinburgh Sunset

So that’s my Saturday – a much needed rest and sun. Now for another week of work culminating in an important review. Hopefully everything will go to plan. So potentially no posts for another few days whilst I’m busy getting all of my work finished. They will be more regular again soon!

Thanks for reading,

From Lou

PS.Here’s the route we took today for those of you that may be interested.

Edinburgh Walk

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Edinburgh’s resident volcano

Letter 84

One of the best and most popular things to do in Edinburgh is to take a walk up Arthur’s Seat. Arthur sits within Holyrood Park and watches over the medieval city. The views are breathtaking and stretch out towards the city, the hills and the coast. I feel pretty lucky to live a mere 10 minutes away from it. I’ve had such a great time relaxing and enjoying some of my favourite parts of the city this weekend, so I thought I’d share some of Edinburgh’s highlights with you all today!

 Starting in Newington we first made our way up to the main event, Arthur. It actually felt like spring with beautiful blue skies and the sun shining down on the bright yellow gorse that’s beginning to coat the area. It was even pretty warm and the coats came off as soon as we started to ascend.

Edinburgh Arthurs Seat 1Edinburgh Arthurs seat 2Edinburgh Arthurs seat 3

We then made our way down the back of the seat towards the east of the city and the beach. It wasn’t quite warm enough to grace the sand with our presence and instead stopped off to have some lunch. On the way we passed one of my favourite lochs in the area, Dunsapie. It’s nestled into a hill attracts both wildlife and walkers.

Edinburgh Dunsapie LochEdinburgh Dunsapie Loch 2Edinburgh swan

Edinburgh tree reflections

Reflections in the puddles

On the way back we circled around Dunsapie Loch and then continued on Queen’s Drive, the road that runs around Holyrood Park, instead of detouring up the seat. The views from this road are also magnificent as you can see over Holyrood Park, across the countryside towards the Pentland Hills and down to the pretty village of Duddingston and the big loch. Despite the sun and deceptively warm spring temperatures, the wind was in full force and cooled us down before going home. A lovely walk nonetheless.

Edinburgh Duddingston

Duddingston Village

Edinburgh Queens Drive

Edinburgh Pentland Hills

The Pentland Hills

Edinburghy city in the distance

Road towards the city

Edinburgh Crags

Salisbury Crags standing proud

To finish the day off, we arrived back home to a stunning smokey sunset over Edinburgh’s rooftops. It was a wonderful day getting out into the fresh air and spending time in Holyrood. Visitors to the city will all head up Arthur’s Seat but neglect the rest of the vast park which is well worth spending a day exploring. I got a taste of spring and now can’t wait for warmer sunnier days in the near future.

Edinburgh Sunset

Smokey sunset

From Lou

PS. Here’s a map of where we went today…

map

PPS. Work has really caught up with me this week and it’s going to be very busy until we break up for Easter so I’m not sure how often the letters will come. I’m starting to think that my goal of ‘100 for 1 year’ was a little too optimistic. I’ll still try but it’s looking unlikely! Thanks for reading everyone!

Travelling solo vs with friends?

Letter 83

I already have a letter about solo travel, so for this one I’d like to just talk about travelling with others. More precisely – what drives me crazy about travelling with others.

Read my previous letter, number 9, here: I travelled solo.

This topic has been playing on my mind since Italy, a few weeks ago. I didn’t mention it in any of the posts but I thought we could chat about it now. I travelled firstly with about 100 other architecture students in Rome and then went on for a week to visit 2 more cities with just one of my friends. I loved the trip so much and had a wonderful time, but it did remind me why I like to travel solo. Let me tell you why.

1. No alone time

The most difficult thing for me is not being alone. I love being by myself, just listening to my surroundings and the thoughts in my head. I like to sit and read for hours if I want to. When you travel with someone else, or with a couple of people, you literally live with them and spend every waking moment with them. It’s suffocating! I find myself sneaking out early just to get some time alone.

2. “Whatever you want to do”

When I visit a city or place I normally have a pretty good idea of what I want to do. Whilst I like winging it and seeing where I end up, I normally have a strong list in my head. To me, it’s non-negotiable and I will do what I want. For others? Not so much. The phrase that drives me up the wall is “we’ll do whatever you want to do”. No! I WILL do whatever I want to do, YOU do whatever you want to do. My ideal travel partner would be someone that has a backbone and doesn’t mind splitting up and exploring by themselves. Just because something is on my list, doesn’t mean it needs to be on theirs.

3. Home time

A big problem I find is when you have different ideas of when to head home, or to your hostel. When I travel on my own it completely varies day to day. I’ll decide based on what I’m doing, the weather, how hungry I am and whether I have something to do. Most of all, when I’m visiting a new place, I want to make the most of it. For me that means leaving no stone un-turned and spending time relaxing and enjoying my surroundings. I love to watch the sunset and experience places during nighttime as they completely change. Some people like to head back before dinner to get their mandatory dose of facebook.

4. WiFi

THIS drives me insane. Why come on holiday if all you really want to do is find the next WiFi spot and see what people are doing back home? Connected to this is the use of google maps. I don’t understand why you need to use maps on your phone when you can get a perfectly good paper map that doesn’t run out of battery. People didn’t always use their phones to get around, so why use them now? Also, part of the fun of travelling is painfully trying to figure out how to get to the next destination, failing, and ending finding something new anyway. Google maps ruins all the fun!

5. Pace

Travelling solo is easy. You can choose when to leave, come back, what to do and most importantly, how fast to do it. On a big scale, that could mean how long to spend in a country. On a small scale, it could be how long to spend enjoying a piece of art in a gallery. There is always a compromise of pace when you travel with others. As you might’ve guessed, I’m not great with compromise. Travelling alone means you can go as slow as you like – or as fast as you can!

6. You get to know them a little too well

Travelling with someone else is even more intense than just living with them. You not only sleep in the same room with them, you also eat with them, go to attractions with them, walk everywhere together, go shopping, go to sleep, wake up…. etc. You even get to know their bowel movements. It can be quite overwhelming. Getting to know someone better can be a massive pro of course, but it can not be. Travelling solo allows you not only to get to know yourself better, but to get to know complete strangers. I know what I prefer.

7. There will be judgement

It may not be said out loud, or even thought by all parties, but you may start to judge your travel companions. Why aren’t they showering? I don’t remember them brushing their teeth. We split the bill but they ate way more than me! Is that all they’re going to tip? That was rude… It may only be little things, but it’s very likely you’re going to judge each other. It’s natural. But when you spend every waking moment with other people it can consume your mind.

8. It’s not as easy to meet other people

When you travel solo, a big aim is to meet other people. Not because you’re going to become best friends and spend all day with them; but to have an interesting conversation, share a drink and maybe take a day trip with them. It’s easy to meet people because you’re on your own, and so are the other travellers who want to meet people (surprise surprise). If you’re already in an established travel pair or group, there isn’t such a need to meet others.

9. What if you miss something?

Naturally, when you’re deep in conversation with someone, you notice less around you. It’s physics – your brain can only do so much. Walking around with someone is a far less vivid experience than walking on your own. The conversations you have in your head will be much more animated when your only focus is your surroundings.

10. You look like a tourist

My last point. A group, or even a couple, with a noticeable tan, some new sunglasses and cameras round their necks are tourists from a locals point of view. Take one person out of the group and send them off to explore on their own, and suddenly they are more mysterious. Now they might not be a tourist. What if they are a fellow local? What if they’re a photographer, a business person, a student? Take Rome, for example. I sat on my own in Piazza Navona for about an hour at midday and not one person bothered me trying to sell things. To them, I wasn’t a tourist. They know how yo pick out tourists, and a solo traveller is not their market.

 

The point of this post? It’s not to say I’ll never travel with another human again. I have great friends who I’d like to travel with, one day I’d love to travel with my boyfriend and I can’t wait to travel with my future friends that I’ll meet on the road. So many of my greatest memories include other people, but they are the people I met whilst travelling. It’s a very special kind of friendship. I just wanted to point out some of the more obscure, sometimes comical things that I have noticed when travelling with others, opposed to travelling alone.

Most of all, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and that I may have either inspired you to travel solo, or just put you off travelling with friends!

All the love,

From Lou

boo 451

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Yellow Hills and Purple Flowers

Letter 82

Springtime in Edinburgh is beautiful. There are so many parks and hills to explore and today I enjoyed venturing to an area I had never been to before.

After an incredibly hectic couple of weeks with numerous deadlines and my stress levels going through the roof and into outer space, I took a day off today. One whole guilt free day enjoying my favourite city in the world with one of my favourite people in the world. We ventured south of Edinburgh to the beautiful area of Blackford where we walked around the hills, sat by the pond and explored the streets of the villages surrounding the nature reserve. Even if the weather wasn’t quite as beautiful as it had been during the week, it was positively balmy and perfect for a wee walk.

On the way back we stopped in a cafe overlooking Edinburgh’s meadows and had a relaxing pot of tea. The meadows in springtime is THE most stunning place you can imagine and I can’t wait till it truly starts to blossom. Right now it’s gracing us with bright yellow daffodils and tiny purple flowers. I managed to forget my camera today but I hope you enjoy my photos from my phone of some lovely parts of Edinburgh.

Ediburgh Blackford Hill Arthurs seat

View towards Arthur’s Seat and the sea

Edinburgh Blackford Hill Bench

Peaceful Places

Edinburgh Blackford Hill

Yellow hills and villages beyond

Edinburgh Frog

Our friend Mr Frog

Edinburgh Meadows Flowers

Beautiful flowers in the Meadows

map

A map so that you can see where we’ve been – Blackford, with it’s nature reserve, and the Meadows closer to the centre. Both with views towards Arthur’s Seat in the east.

Just a quick post today to show you another side to my home. Have a lovely Sunday everybody!

From Lou

About Me

Sharing my love of Greece…

Letter 81

Spectacular nature and pristine beaches you can discover. Tiny intimate villages and whitewashed towns and cities. Friendly people who sound angry whenever they speak Greek. Eating 2€ gyros and calamari for every meal. Watching sunsets. Crystal water. History. Architecture.

I love Greece.

Maybe you’ll understand some of my love of this wonderfully diverse country through reading this letter.

Since I first set foot in Greece when I was 7 years old, I have loved it. Even at such a young age, holidaying with my parents, the country and it’s people captured my heart. Since my first visit I have returned time and time again and I consider it home. It sounds strange, but after I stayed for 6 weeks and became part of a small community, I will always consider it a place I am welcome.

Kefalonia

The beautifully quiet island of Kefalonia was my first experience of Greece. Back in 2004, Athen held the Olympics and this little slice of paradise was left almost empty for us to explore. We stayed in the resort of Kateleios which sits on the south of the island. I actually know very little about Kefalonia as an island, because I was so young when we went, but I believe this is a pretty quiet spot. I remember the beach being pebbly and there were lots of dirt tracks lined with trees. It had beautiful imperfections. Nearby was the more perfect Scala. Of course this brings more people. The village is quaint and pretty and the beach is beautiful. The whole island is a serene paradise that flies under the radar and remains relatively untouched by masses of tourists. It’s mountainous with a coastline that winds around little coves. I would love to explore this island now that I’m older and can appreciate it more. It’s been a whole 12 years since I went.

Kefalonia view

Colourful Greece

Kefalonia Taverna

Classic taverna

Kefalonia Village

Village at the foot of the landscape

Crete

The next island I found myself on was 4 years later, when I was 11, and my family and I went to Crete with my best friend. I remember it being an incredibly fun holiday because we stayed at a really great all inclusive hotel which tonnes of entertainment. In all honestly, that would be my worst nightmare now, but I loved it back then. We stayed in Agia Pelagia which is right in the middle of the north side of the huge island, near Heraklion. At the time I had no idea how large Crete really was, but now I realise how much this island has to offer. Again, I need to get back to Crete and spend time travelling around, because there is so much to see. I remember going on a boat trip to the island Spinalonga and hating every second of it. It was all about history and the leper colony and I found it very boring. I hate myself for not caring about it now, because I would love to revisit it. How times change? I do remember not liking it as much as Kefalonia because it wasn’t as green and where we stayed was a much more generic holiday resort. It didn’t feel Greek which, even at 11 years old, I knew I loved.

Crete beach

Sparkling water

Crete landscape

A hot and hazy view

Kos

My third trip to Greece came in 2011, at age 14. Again, my mum and I jetted off with my best friend (new best friend now, but this one was real because we’re still fabulously close) and also with some other friends of ours. I believe this is the one where the true traveller in me began to make an appearance. I pretty much planned the whole trip, did research on the country and even made a booklet to take with me with all the information I’d gathered about what to do and where to go. I haven’t changed since. We had an absolute whale of a time and I completely loved the island of Kos. The town was beautiful and the landscape was even better. We did lots of day drips around the island and to other islands, and I feel like I really did get to know the place. I think it’s the perfect island – lots to do, see and experience whilst also being peaceful and quintessentially Greek. I think it has changed a lot over the years, mainly due to refugees, but I hope it has kept it’s charm and beauty.

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Harbour in Kos Town

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Ruins in the town

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Stunning in Tigaki, where we stayed

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Waking up for sunrise is the best activity

Skiathos

Oh, Skiathos. You absolute beauty. My mum and I came here in 2014 and stayed for a blissful 2 weeks on the island. Hotel Marina, in Kolios, was wonderful and I would recommend it. The location is perfect as it’s right in the middle of the south of the island. A bus runs the whole length from Skiathos Town to Koukounaries, stopping at all of the towns and beaches. It only takes 30 minutes because it’s such a tiny island. There are so many lovely beaches to explore, not to mention the town which is really beautiful. I really enjoyed Skiathos and think it’s pretty perfect. I think I’ll do a full letter about Skiathos because I could honestly go on for hours about this little Aegean gem.

SKiathos town water

Stunning Skiathos Town

Skiathos headland

Rugged landscape

Skiathos Lalaria

Famous white-pebbled Lalaria beach

Skiathos crystal water

Crystal clear water

Skiathos town

Colourful town

Athens

Now, we come to my most recent trip to Greece. The capital. I came to Athens in 2015 before starting my volunteering with turtles. This city is special. It is very different to any city in the world and deserves some serious time to be spent here. I already have a couple of really detailed letters about Athens, so I’ll just leave a few pictures here for you.

I loved Athens   |   I loved Athens… again

Athens and ruins

Ruins and the city

Athens Acropolis

Star of the show in the sunset

Athens from Lycabettes Hill

View over the white metropolis

Athens from the rock

Athens

Athens Parliament

Syntagma Square

Peloponnese

Finally, we come to the reason I consider Greece as my home. The beautiful area that I lived in for 6 weeks and have been dying to get back to ever since. The second I finish my degree this is where I’m running off to. Koroni is a tiny town in this Greek region on the mainland. It’s about 5 hours from Athens in an area which really isn’t that popular with tourists – so get out there! Again, I’ve already written about this haven, so if you’d like to hear more, click below. Otherwise, enjoy a couple of photos.

I fell in love   |   I found turtle tracks   |   I volunteered for sea turtles: all the info

Koroni beach

Deserted beach near Koroni

Koroni Sunset

Sunset in Koroni

Pelopponese beach and castle

Methoni beach and castle

Pelopponese waterfall

Polylimnio Waterfalls

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this letter, I loved going back through (very old) photos and writing about some of my favourite places. Greece truely is a magical place.

Have a great day everyone!

From Lou

About Me

PS. Here’s a couple more photos of Greece you may enjoy…

Greece crystal blue waterGreece swansGreece Cats

2 Months, 2 Countries!

Letter 80

Let’s have a catch up? We’re already 6 days into March, which I can barely believe, so I thought I’d do a recap of the last couple of months and talk about what March may have in store.

Being at university means I can’t travel as much as I’d like to, but I am pretty proud of myself for managing to visit 2 countries this year already. Back in January I spent a week in one of the most unique countries in the world, Iceland, and then just last week I returned to Edinburgh after 10 days in Italy, one of my favourite countries. Both trips have been incredible and have kept my itchy feet at bay, but now I can barely contain my excitement for the summer.

Check out my posts from the last couple of months if you wish:

Letters from Iceland   |   Letter from Italy

p1050882

One of my favourite spots in Iceland – Thingvellir Park

turin-river-po

The beautiful riverside of Turin, Italy

University

Right now I am snowed under in deadlines. University life isn’t all the fun and games they made it out to be. Last week I handed in a big design project and on Wednesday I have a deadline for a history essay, plus a presentation to do. Busy busy busy. On top of all of this we have our main design project running through all the way up to Easter which I really need to get cracking on. The next month is going to be one of the busiest of my university career so far and it upsets me to say I have no real plans for March. It will be a boring month compared to the last 2, but I will very much look forward to April when things start to slow down a bit and I get a few weeks off to go home and do work and revision.

P1010004

University may be tough right now – but at least I get to live here

Summer Plans

My plans for this summer are coming along nicely and soon I’ll be able to start booking stuff. I will find out when I actually break up for summer today so then I can decide when to jet off! I can’t wait to tell you all about my plans, I am beaming with excitement! I only need to book 3 flights and a couple of weeks accommodation, which I’ll be spending with my boyfriend, and then a couple of months free reign where I will wing it and see where I end up! I can’t freaking wait.

March

As I said, March is going to be boring. Hopefully I’ll manage to do at least a couple of fun things in and around Edinburgh, but on the whole, boring. I suppose I’m due a month where I actually stay in one place, right?

Thanks for reading, let me know your plans for the next month! Anything exciting?

Happy March everyone!

From Lou

About Me

People of Italy

Letter 79

One of my favourite subjects to photograph is people. I love observing how the locals go about their lives and capturing natural interactions between people. Here are some of my photographs of people from my recent trip to Italy. Enjoy!

turin-people-relaxing-in-a-park-guitarist

Chilling in Turin’s park on the river

milan-couple-relaxing-in-park

Young love…

turin-young-couple

…love really is all around

turin-father-and-son

Father and son

turin-mother-and-daughter

Mother and daughter

milan-people-in-the-park-with-their-dogs

The dogs giving up on their walk

rome-person-reading

Quiet spot for reading

turin-revision-in-a-relaxing-square

Studying in the square

rome-relaxing-person

Relaxing in the late afternoon sun

rome-person-cycling

Beautiful route through Rome

rome-guitarist-busker

A musical bridge

milan-people-at-the-market

Happy market-goers

milan-people-at-the-market-2

Browsing antiques

rome-people-embrace

A touching embrace between people at a public funeral in Rome

From Lou

(Who is dreadfully missing Italy)

About Me